Putnam EMS workers let man die, suit alleges

By Chris Dickerson | Aug 22, 2008

WINFIELD – The estate of a Putnam County man says county EMS workers didn't do enough to keep him from dying.

WINFIELD – The estate of a Putnam County man says county EMS workers didn't do enough to keep him from dying.

Angela Wagner, as adminstratrix of the estate of Arthur Ray Baker, filed the lawsuit July 30 in Putnam Circuit Court against the Putnam County Commission, doing business as Putnam County Emergency Medical Services.

In the complaint, Wagner says Baker, an asthmatic, experienced respiratory distress on May 3, 2006, and called 911.

Upon arrival, the EMS workers were, according to the complaint, "slow, leisurely and unhurried." This apparently made Baker "agitated and restless due to lack of air."

The suit says no stretcher or oxygen was initially provided to Baker.

Baker, 28, was instructed "to walk unassisted down two flights of stairs to the stretcher with no oxygen being administered."

"Please don't let me die," Baker told the EMS workers, according to the suit. The workers "acted as if it was a bother or nuisance to them to have to respond to the emergency call."

The complaint says more than 30 minutes elapsed between the time the EMS workers arrived at Baker's home in Winfield and the time they left to take him to Putnam General Hospital.

Baker's symptoms began to worsen dramatically, according to the lawsuit.

"He was placed on a stretcher, seized and stopped breathing," the complaint states. "No treatment was provided to Arthur Baker until he crashed."

Despite attempts to resuscitate him by EMS workers and Putnam General employees, Baker died.

"The autopsy report indicates that 'Arthur Ray Baker, a 28-year-old man, died as the result of acute respiratory failure due to bronchial asthma,'" the suit states.

Wagner says the EMS workers failed to properly and timely provide treatment to Baker. She calls their actions careless, reckless, willful and wanton.

Baker, she says, was forced to endure mental anguish, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life and, ultimately, death. In addition to the mental anguish, Baker's estate also has had to pay medical and funeral expenses because of the EMS workers' actions, the suit states.

Wagner seeks compensatory and punitive damages, pre- and post-judgment costs, fees and other relief.

Wagner is represented by Charleston attorney and physician Richard D. Lindsay. The case has been assigned to Circuit Court Judge O.C. "Hobby" Spaulding.

Putnam Circuit Court case number: 08-C-245

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